Cycling provides a wonderful dose of health in our not-so-active day-to-day lives. It's always on the recommended list for all sorts of health issues. Besides a healthy routine, many men opt to cycle as a recreational activity.
While cycling has many positive health effects, if not done properly, it can also have detrimental effects on men's bodies. Long-term, vigorous cycling can cause a number of problems, including saddle sores, genital numbness or pain, and erectile dysfunction from the perineal pressure. Incorrect bike setup or bad posture can also result in wrist strain, neck pain, and lower back pain.
There are escalating worries about the cycling and men's health link. So, this article summarises the concerns and positive aspects of cycling to help you make the right choice.
Negative Impacts - What's wrong with cycling?
The essential threat from cycling is not the activity itself but rather the posture. Now, you may think we spend most of the day sitting on chairs. And what can go so wrong with the bicycle's seat?
Let's dig a bit into anatomy to understand the issue. When one usually sits on a chair, the body weight is supported by the lower part of the hips, which are the sit bones."
Since there are no essential organs on the lower side, it is not harmful. Also, the surrounding muscles and fat allow us to enjoy a painless sitting posture for a long time. However, during cycling, the seating position varies.
Let's dig into this more and have a look at a few negative impacts of cycling on men's physical health:
Genital Discomfort: Prolonged cycling can lead to saddle sores, genital numbness, and even erectile dysfunction due to pressure on the perineum.
Lower Back and Neck Pain: Poor posture while cycling, especially on road bikes with a forward-leaning position, can result in lower back pain and neck strain.
Wrist and Hand Strain: Gripping handlebars tightly for extended periods can cause wrist and hand discomfort or even conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Overuse Injuries: Repetitive pedaling can lead to overuse injuries like tendonitis, particularly in the knees, hips, and ankles.
Muscle Imbalances: Cycling primarily engages lower-body muscles, potentially causing imbalances with underdeveloped upper-body muscles and reduced bone density in the upper body.
Should you quit cycling?
If you are viewing cycling as a men's health concern, then you must put a brake on your thoughts. Because although there are risks of temporary erectile dysfunction with cycling, its benefits outweigh them.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health suggests exercising for a cumulative period of 30 minutes, ideally on most or all days of the week. Cycling offers the best way out of several wellness issues.
Moderate cycling is particularly helpful against cardiac problems, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, the good hormones, aka endorphins, induced by cycling can be helpful against stress-related issues.
Especially with sedentary lifestyles on the rise, quitting cycling is the worst choice to make. People with restricted mobility possess 30% to 50% higher chances of developing hypertension. Ultimately, hypertension is another pathway leading to erectile dysfunction and various other risks.
What can you do?
Instead of quitting cycling, one can make certain changes to the bike and pick up a few habits for a relaxed ride.
The regular saddle is the prime barrier to the oxygen supply. A study measured the link between saddle type and oxygen flow to the penis.
Observations reveal an 82.4% and 72.4% decline from the initial oxygen pressure in narrow and V-edged bike seats, respectively. In comparison, the supply was reduced by only 20.3% for wide seats with medium padding.
So, substitute a narrow seat or a seat with a V-end for a broad seat. In that way, pressure lessens on your perineal arteries. The handlebar's height should be slightly lower than the saddle. It is preferable to even out the pressure on the body.
Besides, always make sure to never cycle in a stretch. Add a few breaks to the journey, especially if you feel numbness around the genitals.
Also, grab a pair of padded bike shorts for your regular rides.
Finally, remember that the risk is higher for men who cycle a lot. A comparative study to differentiate the number of safe cycling periods was conducted. It suggests that less than a three-hour cycling schedule per week is beneficial. And the long-term dangers are higher only in cases of cycling for more than three hours per week.
Cycling is one of the most popular pastimes, with an estimated billion users worldwide. But with rising concerns related to men's health, one may hesitate to opt for it.
Rather than skipping this beneficial habit, a few modifications would be helpful. Remember to opt for a bicycle with a wider saddle and lower handlebars. If not, put your creativity to work and make changes to suit your comfort.
Besides, a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to men's health. Therefore, blend in a few more exercises and a healthy diet along with biking for robust fitness.
Written By - Sameena
Edited By - Bhagwat Jha